January 2015
Contents / home
Bloodhound's supersonic quest
Deputy Minister visits SAASTA
SAASTA Highlights Report
SAASTA takes science to Beijing
Natural Science Olympiad
Community media pilot project
Crystallography kits for schools
PUB celebrates 10 years of biotech
Reaching visually impaired learners
School debate finals
Science communication workshops
KAT-7 seen as design highlight
Meet Nithaya Chetty
Eskom Expo 2014
SKA SA exhibits at BRICS EXPO
Algoa Bay Hope Spot launched
Inspiring environmental scientists
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

High school learners debate science's role in health challenges

  Gift of the gab – the team from Queen's College Boys' High took top honours in the 2014 SAASTA National Schools Debates competition. From the left: Louise Featherstone (educator), Lawrence Lwanga, Emilio Smith, Qhawe Bula, SAASTA's Dr Jabu Nukeri, Ndayeni Manzi and Aphendulwe Ngqola
  The first runner up was St Michael's School for Girls. From the left: Nthabiseng Nkeeane, Mathilda Milisan Marais (educator), Angeline Wong, Nokuzola Taliwe, Dr Jabu Nukeri, Neo Kabi and Tshegofatso Mafata
  The second runner up was Crawford College Pretoria. From the left: Yvonne Reddy (educator), Mario Alberto Santos Ervedosa, Manna Storom, Alana Du Pisani, Dr Jabu Nukeri, Mayuri Ramnarain and Hannah Tate
The provincial finals for the 2014 SAASTA National Schools Debates competition were held on 4 December at the 3M Innovation Centre in Woodmead, Johannesburg.

The aim of the National Schools Debates competition is to encourage young people to address key issues around science and technology that are faced by their communities, through the medium of debate. The programme seeks to foster confidence in high school learners from Grades 9 to 11 to speak about science. It also gives participants the opportunity to develop skills in research, critical thinking and information literacy, as well as the ability to work as a team to present logical, clear arguments.

This year the following schools represented their provinces at the finals: Eastern Cape – Queen's College Boys' High; Free State – St Michael's School for Girls; Gauteng – Crawford College Pretoria; KwaZulu-Natal: Durban Girls' High; Limpopo – Thengwe High School; Mpumalanga – Suikerland Secondary School; Northern Cape – Kimberley Boys' High School; Western Cape – The Settlers High School.

The learners were asked to research and debate the following question: "In facing our current and future health challenges, do you think we should be investing in the discovery of new drugs and medicines, supported by fields such as biotechnology and crystallography?" This topic was particularly relevant given the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in our continent.

Social media adds sparkle

For the first time, social media was incorporated into the competition. This added extra appeal and relevance to the experience of its teenage participants.

Queen's College Boys' High (Eastern Cape) came out tops as the 2014 winners and was awarded the ultimate prize of a trip to New York, which includes an exciting programme of scientific exploration. The first runner up was St Michael's School for Girls (Free State) and the second runner up was Crawford College Pretoria (Gauteng), who all received prizes of Apple iPods.

The SAASTA National Schools Debates competition continues to provide learners with a platform to make scientific information relevant, through the understanding of social, cultural and economic implications. We hope that the competition will continue to steer young South African minds towards careers in science, engineering, technology and innovation.